First Presbyterian Church to play host to concert

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Twenty-five years ago, a choir was started in Vicksburg. It was named the Vicksburg Chamber Choir and was comprised of non-professional vocalists.

The men and women who audition for the group were just adults who enjoy singing, choral director Sharon Penley said.

The choir is still going strong, and on Dec. 13 the group will present their 25th anniversary concert —Silver Christmas.

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The idea to create a local choral group was set in motion by former Crawford Street United Methodist Church minister of music Ray Fountain, choir member Jim Hess said.

Hess, who, like Penley is an original member of the choir, said Fountain came to him to see if he would be interested in starting the group.

“Ray knew the amount of talent in the city,” Hess said, and he also thought Dick Brown should serve as the choral director.

Brown was a teacher at All Saints’ Episcopal School, and had formerly served as the long-time conductor for the Jackson Choral Society, Penley said.

Hess said Brown agreed to lead the group and word was than circulated to groups in town that auditions would be held for the newly organized choir.

The Vicksburg Chamber Choir no longer holds auditions, Penley said, but the choir is comprised of dedicated individuals.

“My singers rarely miss a rehearsal,” Penley said, and noted that those who are involved with the choir enjoy spending one hour of their week doing something they love in addition to their “day jobs.” 

“It is a time they can let loose of everything,” Penley said, comparing practices to exercising.

“I will see the choir members come dragging in, but after practice everyone seems to leave energized,” she said.

Hess said he has enjoyed being a member of the group for the past 25 years.

“It’s always been a good experience to sing with other choir member in the community,” he said.

The Silver Christmas anniversary concert is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 1501 Cherry St., and the performance will include music by a variety of composers, Hess said, including “And the Glory of the Lord” from Handel’s Messiah.

“Sharon picked this song because it was a favorite piece from a former pastor,” he said.

In addition to the Handel piece, the choir will also perform arrangements of traditional carols, Appalachian carols and Renaissance music.

“All the music is sacred and acoustic — sung in four, six and eight-part harmonies,” Penley said.

First Presbyterian organist Barbara Tracy will accompany the choir.

Other musicians will include Bennett Randman on cello, Nick Black on violin and Mary Claire Allison on flute.

The concert is free, but donations are encouraged.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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